Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in responding today to a civil lawsuit alleging he shot a friend in the face and then abandoned him.
The lawsuit, filed in June, alleges that Hernandez shot his friend Alexander Bradley, 31, in the face after the two partied at a Miami strip club in February.
“Defendant asserts his rights under the Fifth Amendment and, therefore, declines to respond to the allegations,” the filing states 13 times in response to specific allegations contained in Bradley’s civil complaint.
According to a Florida police report, employees of a John Deere tractor store discovered Bradley on Feb. 13 near their store, on the ground in the fetal position, bleeding from the head with his eyes swollen shut.
Questioned immediately after the shooting, Bradley told police he did not know who had shot him and refused to help them find his attacker, prompting them to close the investigation.
Four months later, Bradley named Hernandez as the shooter in the lawsuit, which states that he and Hernandez visited Tootsie’s strip club in Miami together and got into an argument while inside. While driving later toward Palm Beach, Hernandez pointed a gun at Bradley and fired — either intentionally or through extreme negligence, the lawsuit alleges. Bradley lost his right eye from the gunshot and underwent multiple surgeries.
In a four-page filing by his attorneys, Hernandez refused to acknowledge any of the narrative painted by Bradley other than to confirm that Hernandez is a resident of Massachusetts.
Hernandez, 24, is currently being held without bail on a first-degree murder charge in the unrelated shooting death of Odin Lloyd, of Dorchester. The Globe has reported that Hernandez is also being investigated for his potential role in another shooting — an unsolved double murder from July 2012 — and that investigators believe Bradley may have information about that shooting.
Hernandez’s attorneys had asked that the civil suit, which is seeking at least $100,000 in damages for Bradley, be delayed until after the Odin Lloyd murder trial was complete.
However, US District Court Judge Kathleen Williams, the Florida judge presiding over the case rejected that request.
Without addressing the specifics of the case, Hernandez’s attorneys argued that it would be impossible for Hernandez to participate in Bradley’s civil suit without potentially incriminating himself in the ongoing investigation into the Lloyd slaying.
Williams has given Bradley’s attorneys until March 13, 2014 to conduct interviews with potential witnesses and to collect other pieces of evidence related to the case.Wesley Lowery can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @WesleyLowery.